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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

“Leopards”, Abrams and prospects for a Russian-Ukrainian confrontation

Ukraine was once again the target of massive rocket attacks by Russian troops last night, as well as attacks using Iranian suicide bombers, media reported on Wednesday.

There are dead and injured.

As independent analysts suggest, this could be Moscow’s response to the consolidated decision of Western countries to supply modern tanks to Ukraine.

Recall that shortly after London promised to supply the armed forces with a batch of its combat Challengers, Berlin took a similar step, expressing its willingness to transfer 14 Leopards to kyiv and train the Ukrainian army to use them.

In addition, Germany has given the green light to other NATO member countries for the supply of Leopards to Ukraine. Then US President Joe Biden announced that the Ukrainian Armed Forces would receive 31 Abrams tanks in the near future.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Washington’s decision on the Abrams “an important step towards victory.”

On Wednesday, the director of strategic communications for the National Security Council, John Kirby, specified that it could take several months between the decision to supply Abrams tanks and their delivery to Ukraine.

“The West demonstrates unequivocally that Ukraine will receive all the weapons necessary to wage war”

Such an operational shift in the supply of Leopards and Abrams shortly after the results of the Ramstein summit surprised many, the director of the Third Sector analysis center noted in an interview with the Russian service of media. Andrei Zolotarev. Moreover, in Kiev, according to him, the summit was initially not considered a complete success for Ukraine.

“Somehow the ice has broken and Germany can no longer violate North Atlantic solidarity in this situation,” he added. – In fact, we are talking about the fact that a number of countries are gradually being thrown into a common cauldron, and during this year Ukraine will receive more than a hundred German-made Leopard tanks. However, they will be in different states. About a third of them must be brought up to the required conditions. Moreover, the real prospect of getting the American Abrams looms on the horizon. It’s a breakthrough.”

Nevertheless, Andrei Zolotarev believes that militarily this will not fundamentally change the situation on the fronts, although it may play a decisive role in some areas of the battle. At the same time, he recalled that the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny and other Ukrainian leaders spoke of the need for at least three hundred modern Western-style tanks for the offensive.

“So for now, everything fits within the formula, that Ukraine gets so many weapons that they don’t lose, but they don’t win either,” he said. – On the other hand, if the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine does not immediately throw the received equipment into the cauldron of war, but prepares combat-ready formations according to Western standards, this can really turn out to be an effective argument during the spring offensive. But there is a lot of work to be done here. »

At the same time, this is a politically quite serious sign, which is intended to be shown, including, probably, to the Russian leadership, who still counts on solving the problem by military means, says the director of the third sector analysis center. Moreover, judging by the official rhetoric, the Kremlin has estimated that if you mobilize a few hundred thousand more recruits, arm them and train them, then you can achieve, if not by skill, then by numbers, a result acceptable to yourself, he noted.

“In turn, the West unequivocally demonstrates that Ukraine will receive all the necessary weapons to wage a war, and after the tanks, the issue of aviation supplies is already coming into practice, not to mention obtaining modern air defense systems. Therefore, I think very hot weather awaits Ukraine in the coming months,” summarized Andriy Zolotarev.

Ukraine is facing a not insignificant task”

Associate Senior Researcher, Stockholm Institute for Peace Studies Petr Topychkanov I agree that the aid to the Ukrainian armed forces announced by the West as part of the latest package is above all a political signal. Moreover, according to the expert, he was sent to both Kiev and Moscow.

“Western countries are making it clear that they not only intend to leave Ukraine to fight Russia one-on-one, but will also increase military and economic assistance to Kiev,” he said. underlined the interlocutor of media. “The signal sent to Moscow means that it must realize that in the future it will face increasingly fierce resistance from Ukrainian forces who will be much better equipped than at the start of the so-called special military operation.”

At the same time, Pyotr Topychkanov found it difficult to say how the promised supply of weapons would affect the situation on the battlefield. In his opinion, there are a number of problems here.

“First of all, the Ukrainians will have to master the received equipment, train teams, maintenance personnel and establish a repair base,” he explained. – In addition, it is necessary to solve the problems of integrating tank units into the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In general, there are a lot of inconsistencies. Not surprisingly, Ukraine faces a significant task. The difficulty also lies in the fact that Kiev has to solve all the problems in the conditions of an armed confrontation with Russia, when there is no time to build, to work on coordination during exercises, etc.

Moreover, although there are persistent discussions that Moscow is preparing a major offensive operation in the spring, we of course do not know the exact plans of the Kremlin, the expert noted. According to him, here is a problem with “a lot of unknowns”: what forces is Russia able to put forward, if there will be another wave of mobilization, etc.

“Therefore, it is now more constructive to talk about the significant political importance of future supplies from the West,” he said. – For a long time there have been discussions in Europe about the impossibility of supplying heavy weapons to Ukraine in order to avoid an escalation, which could lead to the extension of the conflict, the involvement of new participants and, in the future, the possible use of strategic weapons. In the West, they probed the “red lines” of Moscow and, it seems, came to a consensus that the devil is not as terrible as he is painted.

Anyway, another “red line” will soon be crossed by the supply of tanks to Ukraine, but it is difficult to say what to expect in response from Moscow, Petr Topychkanov concluded.

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